How your company presents itself goes beyond its marketing strategy. While your customers may know your business by what you sell, they are also interested to learn how your company benefits the community. An effective public relations strategy can help your small business thrive.
Before you build a public relations campaign, you need to understand what you want to get out it. Raising awareness may be one goal, but the overarching reason for public relations is to increase your sales and raise your profits. That’s your main objective and should be an essential part of your public relations initiative.
Who are your customers? How do you reach them? What would you like for them to know? They already know that you build widgets, but they may not know that you support your local hospital’s cancer center. Consider ways to help people connect the dots. Placing your business’ name on the cancer center is one way, mentioning your support in marketing materials is another way.
Define Your Message
Supporting your local community can help demonstrate that you are a stakeholder there. If you are opening a new location, use this opportunity to get the word out that your business will be adding new jobs. Work with your media contacts to get this message out through them. Build up a database of contacts and rely on these people to partner with you in disseminating information.
No public relations thrust will succeed apart from a budget. For instance, if you have a new product that you plan to release, you can invite your media contacts to a formal introduction. That may mean providing one or meals, an overnight stay and covering the cost of the presentation. Understand how many people you need to attend, the costs for hosting the event and the time you will need to devote to make this happen.
Your public relations initiative will cost you money, but it can also backfire if the event is cancelled. This means taking out insurance to cover the cost of the cancellation or coming up with a back up plan to hold your event elsewhere. Keep in mind that individual media members may cancel. Keep these contacts going even if the reasons for cancellation are weak.
Provide Supporting Documentation
Your media contacts want information and those details should be readily available on a USB drive or other medium. Provide photos, press releases, management quotes and other information. If asked by media for a more comprehensive interview, plan to make a staff member available to them. Follow up with your guests after the event with an email, survey or a phone call.
Media is not the only way that you will advance your public relations initiative, but it is the most important one. Handled correctly, media can present your business to your customers in a non-advertising way. You’ll benefit from low-cost or even free promotion, perhaps building your business through this strategy more than from overt advertising.
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